Before and After: Admiral Benbow Inn, Jackson

ADMIRAL BENBOW INN, U.S. HIghways 49 and 51, 905 N. State St., Jackson, Miss. 124 DELUXE ROOMS. Phone 948-4161 (A.C. 601), TWX 810-966-2745. Individually controlled Air Conditioning and Heating Thermostats, Color TV, AM and FM Radio and Direct Dialing Phones in each room. Swimming Pool, Lounge, Dining Rooms, Meeting Rooms.

I haven’t done a Before-and-After in a while, but one of yesterday’s masonry screens came from the old Admiral Benbow Inn (now Admiral Retirement Center) and reminded me I had an old postcard from its glory days of colorful panels and brick. Usually I just let the photos do the talking, but this one has me puzzled. At first I thought the postcard above must have its top picture reversed but that can’t be because the words are right. What has changed with the Admiral Benbow (besides becoming much less colorful?) in its transition from a motel to a retirement home?

Here’s an aerial shot to get some perspective.



Categories: Architectural Research, Hotels, Jackson, Recent Past

21 replies

  1. Yarr Harr! It’s the pirates life for me! (just kidding). Preservation of this old girl is great. Your postcard is a treasure. Thank you so much for sharing it and the clear and crisp photos. Fun to look at things from back then. I hope it’s interior is nicely done for the residents.

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  2. Not to take away from this GREAT post card, but it has me wondering how Hwy 49 and Hwy 51 used to tie in. I-55 and the 4 laned Hwy 49 changed the face of Jackson and their surrounding areas. I know it pretty much took a stab at most if not all downtown areas including Jackson. I remember when I-220 came to town, but I’m sure it was not as great an impact as I-55. As a matter of fact I’m struggling to even figure out where The Admiral Benbow is. Great post!

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    • It’s on N. State Street, just south of Fortification, near the Municipal Art Gallery. You’ve raised an interesting point about the highways and interstates in Jackson. My understanding–and a Jackson native might correct me here–is that Highways 51 and 49 ran up N. State Street in Jackson beginning at least as early as the 1930s, with 48 breaking off onto Woodrow Wilson as it does today. Once I-55 was finished, the engineers routed 49 up there to the Woodrow Wilson exit. The southern section of I-55 that includes the waterworks curve wasn’t finished until 1970 or so, according to some Jacksonians I know, so that helps date this postcard to mid-to-late 1960s, probably right around the time the hotel opened.

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  3. The Admiral is one block south of the Fortification/State Street intersection, on the north side. But this puzzle has me totally stumped.

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  4. Very interesting! I think that the northern portion (the right side of the building in the postcard) was torn down at some point and a mirror image of it was built on the south side of the property. It’s the only explanation I can come up with. You can see the location of the pool on the aerial photo and it doesn’t match up with the photo on the postcard either. Very interesting, indeed!

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  5. Isn’t this interesting? I just did a quick Google Images search for the Admiral Benbow Inn in Jackson and found this website:

    http://motelpostcards.blogspot.com/2010/12/admiral-benbow-inn-memphis-tennessee.html

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  6. The reverse image has driven me wild! but the building elevation on the post card claiming to be the Admiral Benbow in Jackson is actually the Admiral Benbow in Memphis. this link has some aerial shots (I fixed the link) of the site before during and after the motel.

    It looks like the poor Jackson Admiral has been through some rough seas. The pool is filled in and the drive between the two buildings is covered over.

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  7. Ahhhh . . . so CRPIII and Thomas solved the puzzle. I was wondering if something like that wasn’t the case. So, M.L., your postcard is of the MEMPHIS ABI. The Jackson folks thought they would get away with the hoax! He he – chain motels. But what a heroic gesture to architecture they were compared to the crap that is thrown up now.

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    • P.S – I am imagining that the management in Jackson made the postcards before their buildings were finished, and that they probably even thought of reversing the image to be accurate but then realized the backward sign would give them away!

      The Memphis motel on Union was the one my family usually stayed in if we did an overnight from Corinth. I still have those fond memories . . . even one particular coming of age moment when at around 10 or 12 I first really noticed girls in bikinis at the motel pool . . . LOL.

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      • Thanks to Thomas Rosell and crpiii for solving the mystery! Crowd-sourcing at its best! I’ll still cherish my Admiral Benbow card, but maybe someday we’ll find a later one that shows what ours actually looked like.

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        • I think you can still cherish your card. The images of the swimming pool and guest room are both from the Jackson Admiral. And the Memphis Admiral had a third building added to the east prior to 1971.

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      • Exactly! The postcards were printed before the motor hotel opened so they would have ’em ready to go. At least the early postcards were. Later on they might have had some new ones with their own property shown.

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  8. State St. was highway 51 all the way south to Hwy 80, then 51 followed 80 to Terry Road which was US51 going south. 49 came down Delta Drive, then east along Woodrow Wilson to State St./US51 then followed State St. South to US80 then east on 80 to old 49 there right east of the Pearl River bridge then continued on southward. Now that being said, I didn’t cover the years Hwy 80 was Silas Brown St and crossing the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and going east as Old Brandon Road. Old maps are really interesting to look at and MDOT has a lot of them available online.

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  9. Wish they had kept that sign with the pirate’s head on it. It’s cool!

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  10. wow, that was an incredible conundrum indeed! I’m so glad someone solved it. I remember going by the Admiral Benbow almost every morning on the way to Elementary school, the signage was definitely still there then (80s-early 90s). It wouldn’t take much, a few triangles on stairwells, same punch of color on the balustrades, a retro-designed sign, for the retirement center to bring back some of the old pizzazz…

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  11. Glad to see the posts, everyone. As late as 1990, they served a good lunch. A few years later, the old lounge, which I’m sure was all-original, served anyone who asked to-go drinks well past the legal cutoff. The rooms were still clean, but worn out. Kinda reminded me of the Sun & Sand, without the politicians.

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